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Britain's archipelago of camps: labor and detention in a liberal empire, 1871-1903.

Camps suggest an Enlightenment project derailed. Associated most often and perhaps most appropriately with Hitler's Germany and the Soviet Gulag under Lenin, Stalin, and their successors, the barbed-wire aesthetic of the camp and the skeletal profile of overworked and undernourished inmates stand as stark reminders of the ideological excesses of an "age of extremes." They are emblems of modern terror. Yet camps are by no means unique to the despotic powers of a short 20th century. Indeed, Britain presided over a considerable empire of labor and detention camps in a long and ostensibly liberal 19th century.

Camps segregated and immobilized populations deemed vagrant, criminal, or otherwise socially or politically dangerous. In contrast to prisons and other disciplinary sites, camps were instruments of collective detention that operated outside normal judicial procedures, often in the context of a perceived emergency. As an integral tool of multiple polities in the 19th and 20th centuries, they enforced heavy labor and penal rations under dire economic restraints, often in the name of controlling and rehabilitating "problem populations." In Britain, camps concentrated an undesirable "dangerous class" in the metropole. But it was the British Empire that offered an especially ripe environment for the development of camps. Directed at a racial and cultural "other" and detached, at times, from public scrutiny, the authoritarian nature of imperial rule motivated officials to assemble many of the physical and psychological prerequisites for the coercive encampment of suspect groups. Although labor, concentration, and extermination camps became infamous in the 20th century, Britain and other colonial powers in the 19th century assembled many of the cultural, material, and political preconditions of forced encampment.

Given their global profile at the turn of the 19th century, British camps may have suggested a direct and conscious model for the early camps of the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany. But more than this, British rule helped foster the structural and conceptual preconditions for the development and management of camps. Imperial administration generated a sophisticated logistical and bureaucratic apparatus aimed at the organization and control of unfamiliar and potentially dangerous populations. Furthermore, it incubated a mental framework (shared across the Western world) that at times demanded the exclusion and incarceration of groups deemed socially or racially suspect. As instruments of the modern "gardening state," moreover, camps embodied an Enlightenment impulse to classify and rationalize large populations on a macro scale, rooting out potential "weeds" in the name of order, prosperity, and social purity. (1) The products of coercion and suspicion, British camps were also justified by discourses of social welfare, humanitarian uplift, and sanitary reform--the justifying imperatives of European rule--that were always preached but only imperfectly practiced.

British camps were often the expedient products of emergencies: famine, disease, and war. Although contingent on circumstance, they help reveal the deeper structures of Western culture that gave rise to extrajudicial detention. As artifacts of social and political modernity assembled by the world's first "modern" state, British camps offer insight into an archaeology of violence shared by states across the ideological spectrum. By confining in a preemptive manner populations deemed "potentially dangerous" but not convicted of any crime, British camps conformed to a more general typology of concentration camps in the modern world. (2)

Checked by liberal ideology and an open public sphere, Britain never assembled anything so brutal as the Soviet Gulag, let alone the Nazi extermination camp. On the contrary, relief and rehabilitation often proved the dominant stated motive. But British camps stemmed nonetheless from new mindsets and government rationalities that sought to organize potentially dangerous segments of the population on a mass scale. While attending to the specific characteristics of camp regimes in liberal and authoritarian states, an examination of Britain's "archipelago of camps" reveals that the coercive and extrajudicial use of camps was by no means the exclusive prerogative of "evil" and "illiberal" empires. Indeed, the term "concentration camp" was first coined to describe British practices in South Africa, even if this was not the first campaign to concentrate or resettle populations in fortified enclosures. (3) Connected by the genealogical sinews of social and political modernity, camps spanned the political spectrum from left to right, from liberal to totalitarian, and from moderate to fanatical; those erected by Britain bore a family resemblance (if only a distant one) to the more notorious enclosures of Germany and the Soviet Union. This article cautions against any false or facile equivalency between British and Soviet camps. Furthermore, its author recognizes the great variety of camps within the British and Soviet regimes across both space and time. But with these provisos, the article offers insight into the encampment practices of a liberal and capitalist polity in hopes that we may further refine our understanding of camps operating under the disparate ideological priorities and logistical possibilities of the Soviet Empire and other regimes.

Britain's Universe of Camps

Erected during war or moments of perceived crisis, British camps served to concentrate, contain, and care for colonial populations according to the overlapping social, political, and epidemiological imperatives of segregation, quarantine, and rehabilitation. The term "camp" derives from the Roman campus martins or "field of Mars," and camps have long been associated with martial practices. With their serried rows of tents and huts, modern military camps emerged during the Napoleonic Wars to regulate and discipline mass armies under a unified and organized command. As material incarnations of a new political culture, army camps provided a logistical model (in terms of layout, sanitation, rationing, and water provision) for future camps concentrating civilian populations. This military pedigree was evident in Britain's network of "concentration camps" in South Africa during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). Here officials adapted a military technology to the mass confinement of civilians in the context of martial law. A controversial measure that attracted international publicity, these camps stand as the most famous incarnation of civilian concentration in the British Empire, for they showcased the idea of mass internment to the world.

But South Africa's concentration camps were only one episode in a much longer history of British camps. In India, Britain's prized imperial possession, officials concentrated colonial populations in makeshift campsites for the purposes of social welfare, labor, punishment, and social/political reeducation. Famine relief camps provided labor and shelter for the destitute; plague segregation camps incarcerated the dirty and epidemiologically suspect; and camps for "criminal tribes" segregated those who could not be safely incorporated into the social body. Meanwhile, tented penal camps on the Andaman Islands harbored criminals and political dissidents after the 1857 "Mutiny" (or Anglo-Indian War). All these camps built on discourses and practices of detention and rehabilitation first pioneered in Britain's metropolitan prisons, workhouses, and other institutes of mass industrial society.

The specific policies that led to camps varied from context to context. In general, however, camps concentrated populations collectively for the potential threat they posed, and according to emergency decrees and the suspension of law. Hard and fast boundaries between camps and other related technologies cannot always be drawn, for they existed on a continuum of modern discipline and punishment. Camps are nonetheless distinguished by their pre-emptive or preventive nature: camp inmates were "suspects" rather than criminals convicted of some statutory crime. At the level of culture and representations, British camps involved the segregation of a denigrated "other" perceived through metaphors of purity and pollution, and defined as a collective threat by virtue of race, class, or communal membership. At the same time, Britain's archipelago of camps can be recognized by a characteristic combination of coercion and care redolent of the Janus-faced tendencies of British power, both at home and abroad.

Policing the Dangerous Classes: Workhouses and Labor Camps. The 19th century in Britain was a period of rapid social and political transformation in which an urban and fully industrialized society replaced a rural, agricultural economy; a "revolution in government" established the mechanisms of universal education and modern administration; and mass democracy replaced an earlier system of aristocratic privilege, fortifying the rule of law and transforming subjects into rights-bearing citizens. According to Whiggish narratives, a series of legislative acts consolidated a constitutional system based on popular sovereignty and an ever-expanding franchise, and Britain's liberal constitutional monarchy further benefited from capitalist development and prosperous free trade. Meanwhile, Britain harbored refugees fleeing ethnic and political violence on the continent, whether the revolutionary emigres of France or victims of Jewish pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe.

When compared to the autocratic regimes of the 18th century and the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, the case for labeling Britain a liberal and democratic polity is undeniable. But if Britain stood out for its inclusive liberal sentiment, a history of modern Britain must also attend to those who were excluded. As Zygmunt Bauman argues, modern political societies are structured around the premise that outcast groups, whether colonial others or metropolitan deviants, must be either incorporated into the body politic or else physically excluded. Building on metaphors of the body politic, Bauman argues that the logic of political modernity demands that deviant groups be either "devoured" through a process of "making the different similar," or else "vomited" from the social body. (4) The development of Britain in the 19th century is largely a narrative of reform in which rural peasants and the urban working classes were rendered respectable members of the political nation through the discipline of factories, prisons, and workhouses. Yet by the end of the century, there remained a "dangerous residuum" thought to be beyond the pale of reform: a "degenerate" and "rootless" class of vagrants that seemingly defied efforts to include--or digest--them. Efforts to exclude, "amputate," or "fence off' these outcast groups, either temporarily or permanently, reflected the limits of liberal reform and opened space for the development of camps.

Metropolitan workhouses erected after the Poor Law of 1834 combined with the system of passes, permits, and police registration used to control the movement of Britain's "dangerous classes" in the wake of the 1869 Habitual Criminals Act and provided an important template for future camps in Britain and elsewhere. In theory, workhouses aimed to reform and rehabilitate, excluding inmates temporarily in the name of (eventually) incorporating them as productive members of society. But despite the promise of reform, workhouses also existed as preemptive institutions designed to protect the productive classes by segregating a social category associated with criminality, excrement, and disease. Class often intersected with discourses of race to exemplify the danger. Targeting a "criminal class" as a social and biological rather than juridical category and confining populations against their will, workhouses curtailed liberty of movement and enforced harsh living conditions by conscious design. As enclosed spaces managed by superintendents, workhouses enforced a residence test that denied "outdoor" charitable relief and concentrated the needy in demarcated spaces, offering a prototype for future camps in India and southern Africa. Moreover, workhouses offered a template for forced labor and exacting discipline, highlighting the affinities between camp organization and industrial management. (5)

By the 1880s, a climate of pessimism descended on British social reformers as they faced a "submerged residuum" of social "irreconcilables," whom they conceived as an insurgent threat to middle-class property owners. In 1886-87, for example, the denizens of "darkest London"--at this time the East End was increasingly imagined in racial terms as a "colonial space"--"invaded" the invisible urban boundaries of middle-class respectability and occupied the "civilized" environs of Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square in the name of social protest. (6) Forsaking a program of inclusion and uplift, municipal authorities embraced the tactics of spatial exclusion and forced segregation as a new network of fenced "labor colonies" supplemented existing workhouses and prisons. These camps drew from the logic of the workhouse but reflected growing frustration with the domestic "civilizing mission" of existing penal infrastructure.

Articulating a discourse of social danger, the pioneering social scientist and humanitarian reformer Charles Booth proposed a scheme for the mass removal of Britain's racially and biologically degenerate "residuum" to overseas labor camps, where some 345,000 "dangerous" social elements could be segregated from mainstream society. (7) With its combination of impracticably and stoic authoritarianism, Booth's system was never fully implemented. But amid currents of eugenicist thought, which recast the "criminal classes" as an abnormal human type, calls for the erection of overseas penal camps remained popular throughout the 1890s. These camps, according to one spokesman, would house a "peculiar" and "separate class" of the metropolitan poor, who were born lazy, immoral, and deficient in intellect. As advocates of overseas labor camps maintained, "not all men can be treated as equal." Rather, forced relocation was necessary to "prevent [the unfit] from bringing into the world children stamped with the character of their parents." (8) Although metropolitan work camps for the destitute emerged in a different political context from other camps in the empire, the logic of exclusion aimed to purify mainstream society from social or political contamination by removing populations--now conceived as a racial or biological category--for the potential threat they posed to the social and political order, rather than for any convicted crimes.

Although the mass exclusion of the poor never took place, a more modest network of semiofficial work camps emerged in the 1890s, administered by the Salvation Army and the London Central Committee for the Unemployed. Located at Hadleigh, Laindon, Hollesley Bay, and other sites outside London, these camps provided shelter and work--in the form of chopping down trees, breaking stones, digging ditches, and preparing rough roads--for the unemployed until World War II and the eventual institution of the welfare state. Modest in scale, each camp contained several hundred men housed in tents and huts for three months of training. Fences and security personnel regulated egress and ingress, and inmates were in some senses compelled into camp by the threat of denied benefits. In this way, the "submerged residuum" was segregated at a safe distance where it could no longer contaminate the more respectable categories of British urban workers.

In addition to their preventive function, agricultural labor camps upheld the promise, however remote, of rehabilitation. Although the inmates of work camps constituted a "residuum of unhelpables," the camps did not constitute a permanent exile from the social body. The stated goal, according to the historian John Field, was to "harden young men through heavy manual labour" and "recondition them" for the regular workforce. (9) In a sterner tone, however, the Victorian economist Alfred Marshall maintained that the camps' primary purpose was to segregate "descendants of the dissolute" and thus preserve "living room" for the more "legitimate" working classes. (10)

"By Virtue of Heredity": Penal Colonies, Managed Institutions, and Criminal Tribe Camps in the British Empire. In Britain, labor camps operated on a relatively modest scale. In contrast, the "dangerous classes" of the colonies offered much greater scope for forced encampment, creating what Frantz Fanon called "a world divided into compartments." (11) Just as metropolitan workhouses offered a confined site to control populations cast as suspect--if never convicted of a crime--the earlier establishment of "managed institutions" for aboriginals in Australia and North America added to Britain's record of concentrating colonial populations in enclosed compounds.

In the empire, discourses of racial (in addition to class) supremacy combined with the priorities of imperial conquest and occupation to provide an extra impetus for the use of camps. "Particularly in its settler form," the historian Cole Harris argues, colonialism was "about the displacement of people from their land and its repossession by others." (12) Whether for the purposes of extermination (as at the Wyabalenna Reserve, where the final members of Tasmania's native population perished), or in the name of "containing, controlling, and segregating" native populations from "a civilization that they [did] not understand and from which they need[ed] protection" (as at the Kahlin Aboriginal Compound), British rule mandated spatial confinement. (13) In the process, enclosed camps "arranged in a manner conducive to order and regularity of appearance" emerged as a means to carve up the colonial world and manage the inscrutable and potentially threatening masses that it contained. (14) Although these compounds were motivated, in part, by humanitarian care and Christian uplift, they exhibited an impersonal aesthetic of "barbed-wire fence[s] and ... bark and iron huts" that was later replicated by camps in the 20th century. Moreover, these settlements enabled constant supervision and efficacious punishment, though they were justified by a rehabilitative agenda that enshrined the triumvirate of "industry, cleanliness, and order" as the favored conduits of civilization. (15) Proponents recommended the "gathering together" of natives in confined camps because they "contained the spread of disease and provided supervision, so that Aboriginal people would not be disinclined to work." (16)

As racial attitudes hardened over the course of the 19th century, the British state took a more interventionist approach to the government of empire. This was especially the case after the 1857 "Mutiny," when a system of overseas penal colonies emerged to segregate at considerable distance those accused of sedition, civil disobedience, and other political crimes. In contrast to the permanent brick-and-mortar infrastructure of prisons in metropolitan Britain, which accommodated criminals convicted by standard juridical procedures, the contingent nature and fiscal stringency of colonial rule generated temporary al fresco camps. In the absence of a capitalist wage labor market, meanwhile, camps proved important instruments in the organization of forced labor. Accommodated in tents and huts, some 20,000 inmates performed heavy labor on public works projects, providing officials with experience in administering this distinctive colonial mechanism of confinement. Relegated to the remote Andaman Islands, inmates endured a tropical version of the spatial exile later experienced by inmates of the "Gulag archipelago." (17) For officials, spatial distance served to purify the subcontinent of social and political disorder, while for prisoners, transportation across the "black waters" entailed a loss of caste and social connection that approximated the "civil death" of the Siberian Gulag. (18) In this way, empire offered a space to reinstate old technologies of punishment that appeared outdated in Britain (penal transportation from Britain to Australia and the Americas had been phased out) while synthesizing new measures of exclusion.

The maritime nature of British power produced numerous island camps, but it was the subcontinent of India itself that emerged as the primary arena of encampment in the 19th century. Efforts to compel the nomadic tribes of South Asia into a sedentary and "civilized" existence generated a system of monitored settlements in the 1830s, and British officials concentrated tribal populations like the Bhils of upland Bombay Presidency--feared for their mobility and martial prowess--in "guarded villages." (19) Supplemented by a system of travel passes, this policy isolated an insurgent military threat and reorganized the colonial world according to the dictates of modern administration, in many ways paralleling efforts in Britain to combat vagrancy and control the itinerant "dangerous classes." Initially, officials conceived the practice of removing tribal people to settled villages as a humanitarian policy that shed the light of civilization onto native populations. But like other ostensibly liberal elements of Britain's civilizing mission, it entailed substantial coercion and hardship for those so targeted.

Sporadic efforts to encamp South Asia's tribal populations intensified in 1871 with the passing of the Criminal Tribes Act by the British Government of India. Drawing from analogous practices of controlling the "criminal" segment of Britain's metropolitan poor, this legislation adapted the Habitual Criminals Act to a colonial context, empowering officials to confine outcast and vagrant groups in purpose-built camps. Exemplifying the "rule of colonial difference," the 1871 act provided for more sweeping powers of summary arrest and preventive detention than any British legislation. In contrast to England, where there was "some chance," according to one official, "of crime not being concealed [and] of criminals being informed against," colonial India presented a vast and dangerous arena of unknown and untrustworthy colonials who required special measures of discipline and surveillance. (20) Cast as deviant by virtue of heredity, registered "criminal tribes" like the Gypsies, Bawarias, Minas, and Sanorias were herded into enclosed compounds, guarded by armed sentries, and forced to perform heavy labor on canals, railways, and other public works projects under British supervision.

Criminal tribe camps emerged to protect a settled and respectable agricultural class from hereditary criminals that existed "in enmity with society." (21) Indian habitual criminals were "enemies of us all," according to P. H. Egerton, the commissioner of Amritsar, and required special treatment outside the existing penal code. (22) To impose mandatory labor and residency, British officials collected the scattered members of these castes and detained them at fixed sites. Using metaphors of contagion, the framers of the 1871 act likened criminal elements to the plague and demanded that they be quarantined "so that they would not infect the social body." (23) In this way, the colonial state could "localise and concentrate their residence" (24) and thus place criminal tribes "under the supervision of an officer who will rule them firmly but wisely." (25) Police guards and passes regulated camp egress and ingress, and superintendents enforced nothing less than "open prison discipline." (26) Meanwhile, rations reflected the assertion that "nothing short of starvation [would] induce [inmates] to undertake labor of an arduous nature." (27) With economy ever a top priority, moreover, the enforcement of heavy labor helped make these camps self-sufficient.

The concentration of criminal tribes rested on the familiar logic of extrajudicial exception and on cultural representations of camp inmates as innately dangerous nomads who required special handling. In contrast to other penal institutions, which operated against individuals convicted or suspected of a crime, the categories of colonial anthropology distinguished between "individuals becoming criminal" and "groups being criminal by birth." Colonial officials accordingly denied members of designated tribes the status of rights-bearing individuals, treating them collectively as a criminal class. Faced with the "peculiar or hereditary nature" of criminal tribes, ordinary laws proved "deficient," and criminal tribes were "dealt with as a whole, and under ... special rules." (28) Like future camps in the 20th century-whether Nazi concentration camps or the Soviet Gulag--criminal tribe camps in India confined a class of people designated a potential threat by virtue of their ethnicity or communal membership. Although they were justified by humanitarian language and the belief that settled labor was a civilizing force, criminal tribe camps segregated a population by administrative decree, targeting a category of people rather than individuals deemed guilty by any juridical procedure.

Ideologies of Work and Sanitation: Famine and Plague Camps in British India. Criminal tribe camps offered an exceptional space for designated ethnic groups, while overseas penal camps accommodated political prisoners. But the social crises precipitated by famine and plague in the 1870s and 1890s extended forced labor and detention more widely, confining millions in public works camps or plague segregation camps under the aegis of various colonial health acts. (29) Relief camps for famine refugees reflected the underlying tensions of a colonial state operating in the contested space between "civilizing missions" and economic exploitation. Their bamboo huts and bramble and barbed-wire fences were the product of colonial crisis management and constituted a tentative humanitarian intervention into the welfare of destitute populations under the repressive conditions and fiscal constraints of a colonial emergency. Plague segregation and evacuation camps likewise entailed a biopolitical intervention into the lives of colonial subjects, relegating a "dirty" and "uncivilized" segment of the native population to fenced barracks.

On the surface, plague and famine camps suggest a rational response to the crises of starvation and disease. But encampment was also premised on cultural representations of colonial people as a social and sanitary danger. Although legitimized by the "objective" spokesmen of economics and medical science, British plague and famine camps were never simply a straightforward response to hunger and disease but were the ideological products of Victorian capitalism and racially inflected discourses of public health. In their pretensions to save life and their use of harsh discipline, famine and plague camps highlight the substantial overlap between the medical and penal technologies of segregation and social isolation. They therefore open an additional lens onto the genealogy of future camps in Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, which likewise incorporated the language of dirt, disease, parasites, and contagion.

Of primary concern to colonial administrators, the major famines of 1876-77 and 1896-97 disrupted existing mechanisms of social control, uprooting a potentially dangerous "criminal class" and portending social and political danger. Apart from a feared increase in crime, the political implications of hungry, wandering masses could not be ignored after the uprisings of 1857-58. (30) Although migration to towns, cities, and irrigated tracts offered a rational strategy of survival for the Indian famine sufferer, British officials viewed "aimless wandering" as an irrational flight emerging from "the blind instincts of the wild animal." (31) At once the sympathetic objects of humanitarian concern, famine victims were alternately cast as "intolerable pests" and "utterly useless and worthless members of the community." (32) Such mindsets facilitated coercive measures to round up and detain emaciated and potentially dangerous wanderers as "the first object of famine administration." (33) Once captured, itinerant groups were concentrated in enclosed detention camps, where they could be made to work in return for rations.

The British Raj met earlier famines with the charitable distribution of government grain. But policies of forced removal and summary detention proved more popular in the 1890s, as urban cleansing campaigns swept up famine refugees, "retain[ing them] by considerable persuasion and practically against their will." (34) Famine officials conceded that forced detention often constituted "practically illegal confinement divorced from legal and democratic oversight." (35) In the militaristic words of Lieutenant-Colonel S. J. Thomson, the sanitary commissioner of the North-Western Provinces (and a figure who later presided over wartime concentration camps in South Africa), all consideration of "'rights' ... disappeared] in a conflict [as] cataclysmic as a great famine." Executive orders could not be questioned nor "brought before a legal tribunal"; on the contrary, an effective "campaign" demanded "a leader--a Dictator," whose "summary words" would "sharply punish" offenses against government orders. (36)

Apart from detaining famine wanderers, officials also used camps to accommodate settled and more "respectable" peasant cultivators who came under increasing distress as scarcity intensified. Reflecting the government's abiding ideological reluctance to remit revenue collection or intervene in the market price of grain, the British Raj provided a bare subsistence wage in exchange for labor and residence in large dormitory camps attached to public works projects. Born of a similar set of attitudes that generated workhouses and labor colonies in Britain, these camps enforced rigorous labor and residence tests as a condition of relief. Noting that Indians of the "better sort" felt the same "repugnance for relief camps which the respectable poor in England have for the Union Workhouse," the journalist William Digby observed that the "degradation of living at a relief camp offered some test in preventing the better classes from partaking of the charity of Government." (37) Considered to be repressive and unpopular by inmates themselves and designed as such by officials, the harsh conditions of camp life served as a deterrent against "demoralization" and the "sins of sloth." By dosing out a "just measure of pain," camps provided a minimal means of subsistence for those who had no other choice, while weeding out relief applicants with other means of support. (38) In this way, dormitory labor camps reflected an uncompromising laissez-faire ideology that reified Victorian attitudes to work and militated against the more generous distribution of "outdoor" charity in times of need.

The outbreak of plague in Bombay, Cape Town, and other British colonial ports in 1896 offered an additional context for the establishment of camps under the auspices of colonial welfare. As the history of leper colonies suggests, forced segregation has long featured as a component of medical policing and social exclusion. Medicine and sanitation have likewise served as lasting metaphors for the encampment projects of the 20th century, though in the case of plague, fears of contagion were more than metaphorical.

Colonial medical officials cast detention and quarantine as objective measures of medical and sanitary science, but invasive home searches by military patrols and the summary detention of unsanitary "suspects" cannot be understood outside the social and racial categories of empire. Like the denizens of metropolitan slums, the colonial poor suggested danger and disorder to British observers, and the otherness of the "dirty native" was counterpoised to the cleanliness of the colonial officer, bedecked in white. Such symbolic ecologies intersected with racial discourses, as colonial dirt suggested more general and "sometimes hidden dangers, political and corporeal, moral and cultural." (39) In this way, the use of barbed-wire plague camps rested on layers of social, cultural, and political meaning external to the epidemic itself.

Like other episodes of encampment, the use of plague camps emerged from the discursive criminalization of suspect groups. Official correspondence exhibited a common slippage of language that cast target populations simultaneously as victims and offenders. Although a humanitarian appreciation of the human tragedy of the pandemic was never absent, the image of Indian and African plague carriers as "suspects," "fugitives," and "fleeing pestifiers" informed British efforts to trap and detain them behind barbed wire. (40) Reflecting visions of the metropolitan "dangerous classes" and the mindset of Victorian social reform, plague operations targeted "persons of the unsafe classes" while exempting Europeans and, to a lesser extent, upper-class natives from encampment and other coercive measures. (41) As such, plague camps were deployed as a preemptive measure against classes of people suspected of harboring disease, rather than individuals determined to be infected by scientific analysis.

In the words of Louis Chevalier, "epidemics do not create abnormal situations" but "betray deeply rooted and continuing social imbalances," thereby sharpening existing behavior patterns. (42) In this connection, plague provided a pretext for the forced removal of unwanted social and racial elements from the center of colonial cities. In Bombay, military troops relocated impoverished Hindu and Muslim laborers from central urban areas, suggesting a template for suburban public housing complexes. Meanwhile, police in Cape Town cleansed the city of black Africans, forming in the process the nucleus of future "native locations" that would come to prominence in the apartheid era. (43)

Camps in a Time of War: Concentration Camps in South Africa. The plague and famine emergencies of the 1890s made possible the proliferation and standardization of camps across British India, offering colonial officials a toolkit of experience caring for and controlling indigent but suspect populations at concentrated sites. Whereas military camps offered early training in the logistical arrangement of concentrated bodies in temporary shelters, camps in India helped officials apply these practices to civilians. By the turn of the century, camps had emerged in India as a discrete and recognizable instrument of colonial rule. With their own internal rules of conduct and codified procedures of management, camps could be used to concentrate and contain "dangerous" populations. But it was across the Indian Ocean in South Africa that the term "concentration camp" first entered the English language.

Over the course of the Anglo-Boer War, British forces presided over a network of more than 100 camps used to detain a quarter-million African and Afrikaner (or Boer) civilians. (44) In the face of devastating mortality rates--20 percent of inmates died, usually from epidemic diseases aggravated by exposure, malnutrition, and cramped and unsanitary conditions--it is tempting to equate British concentration camps with those of the Soviet or Nazi empires later in the century. There are compelling reasons to place South African camps at the beginning of a 20th-century trajectory of political violence. Hannah Arendt noted, for example, that "Boer camps correspond[ed] in many respects to the concentration camps at the beginning of totalitarian rule, used for 'suspects' whose offenses could not be proved and who could not be sentenced by ordinary processes of law." (45) In the wake of World War II, Afrikaner nationalists also equated British practices (cynically, perhaps) with Nazi death camps. (46) Nonetheless, British concentration camps differed substantially from Soviet or Nazi camps in their size, their duration, and the extent of their brutality. In the context of an active military conflict rather than a less tangible "war" against racial, class, and political enemies, the stated (if not the more underlying) motivations of encampment in South Africa must also be distinguished from the Soviet and Nazi cases. British concentration camps emerged as part of a counterinsurgency campaign to cleanse the battlefield of potential partisan fighters and sources of supply. Detaining civilian populations in harsh and unhealthy conditions according to an extrajudicial and preemptive logic, British concentration camps exhibited a repressive edge emblematic of 20th-century state violence. But at the same time, they emerged out of an existing 19th-century tradition of colonial camps, and the dictates of rehabilitation and refugee relief remained central to camp management.

In contrast to earlier colonial enclosures, the concentration camps of South Africa emerged in the context of war, and martial law endowed British officials with greater powers of forced removal and detention than vagrancy laws and the emergency legislation of plague or famine. As a colonial "small war" that quickly assumed much larger dimensions, the conflict anticipated future "total wars" by blurring the distinction between civilians and combatants. In this respect, the indiscriminate confinement of the South African population reflected the "politically modern" intensification and expansion of war, which transformed the entirety of a civilian population--including women and children--into the legitimate targets of violence. (47) Amid a bitter partisan engagement that rendered Boer civilians suspected insurgents by virtue of their ethnic or national identity, camps emerged as a means to control a dehumanized enemy population (and an unfamiliar colonial landscape) on a macro scale and to prevent civilians from providing moral and material provisions to guerrilla commandos.

After British forces captured Pretoria, Bloemfontein, and other cities of the former Boer Republics, the war transitioned into a guerrilla conflict dispersed across an amorphous terrain. Hunting guerrillas and punishing civilians who supplied them with shelter, food, and ammunition, British forces turned to a devastating policy of scorched earth warfare, rendering the landscape a sterile void every bit as barren as drought-stricken India. In his more manic phases, the British commander Lord Kitchener even suggested that enemy civilians be transported to Madagascar, Fiji, or some other island in order to make South Africa "safe and available for white [that is, British] colonists." (48) But such proposals proved logistically unsound, and Kitchener turned instead to a policy of forced urbanization, compelling Afrikaner civilians into captured cities, and eventually to suburban concentration camps where they could be observed and controlled. In this way, British tactics resembled Spanish General Valeriano Weyler's earlier "reconcentration" campaign to gather Cuba's rural population in fortified towns and isolate civilians from guerrilla insurgents. (49) The South African War also foreshadowed future episodes in colonial Kenya and Malaya, where departing British officials deployed camps--described by the historian Caroline Elkins as "Britain's Gulag in Kenya"--in an effort to sort civilians from suspected rebels. (50)

It is true that concentration camps performed a specific military function. But historians often overstate the extent to which the camps were the instrumental agents of a sober military strategy. As in India, the violence of forced encampment depended on a familiar set of cultural representations casting Afrikaners as a "dangerous class": a dirty and degenerate race of "savages with only a thin white veneer," General Kitchener proclaimed. (51) Coming from a culture that equated sanitation with civilization, British authorities routinely described "semicivilized" upcountry Boers as a "dirty, careless, lazy lot," who had lost the "instincts of their European forefathers" and whose habits would be "a disgrace to any European nation." (52) Even though the military context of South Africa generated a distinct set of strategic motivations for encampment, the discourses that justified wartime camps conformed to a familiar cultural framework of purity and pollution that underwrote earlier episodes of encampment.

Instruments of military control, South African camps also resembled earlier efforts to detain and rehabilitate social outcasts. Indeed, for the vast majority of their existence, concentration camps were administered not by military officials steeped in a cult of violence but by civilian authorities reared in an existing tradition of concentrating suspect colonial populations in makeshift camps. Indeed, the Colonial Office highlighted the similarities between wartime concentration camps and earlier episodes of civilian concentration when they recruited such figures as S. J. Thomson and other "camp experts" from India, who boasted "very analogous experience in plague and famine camps," to administer Britain's latest system of camps in South Africa. (53) The Colonial Office also mobilized an inspection committee experienced in health, sanitation, and social work, who visited the camps in the fashion of "guardians of the poor" in Britain; they compared their duties in South Africa to inspecting workhouses and the lodgings of the poor in Britain. (54) As such, familiar practices of controlling a socially suspect and racially degenerate population ultimately informed the development and administration of British concentration camps. If South African camps were precursors, as Arendt argues, to the more infamous concentration camps of the 20th century, they were also products of a 19th-century brand of imperialism and social control, with its characteristic mix of dehumanizing rhetoric and humanitarian care. While anticipating a new century of political violence and total war, they had their roots in an existing tradition of forced encampment.

British and Soviet Camps: A Comparative Agenda

Britain was the homeland of liberalism. Yet it, too, had camps. Such a reality demands further reflection--both by scholars of the British Empire, who have largely neglected Britain's own indigenous camp history, and by Soviet scholars, who might benefit from incorporating the Gulag into a more general spectrum. A transnational and comparative analysis should address two different research questions. First, how did 19th-century camps in the British Empire and elsewhere inform future practices in the more infamous camps of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany? Were there any concrete genealogical connections in terms of policy and personnel? Second, what are the structural continuities that bind together different camp regimes? How did broadly shared ideas about social and political danger, criminality and rehabilitation, and labor, rations, and welfare develop in camps across different political regimes?

The task of comparison, still in a provisional state, must consider the very real differences between British and Soviet practices (as well as those of other camp regimes: German, Chinese, etc.), while recognizing the variety of camps over which each power presided. The diverse forms and functions of British famine, plague, and concentration camps are evident, even if they are connected by a more underlying set of concerns. Conditions in the Gulag varied over space and time: under Lenin or Stalin, and in the katorga camps of Siberia or the less brutal corrective labor colonies. Likewise, the Nazi concentration camps of 1933-34 may offer richer material for transnational comparison than the extermination factory at Auschwitz-Birkenau II, which represented an extreme rather than a norm within the vast German system. (55) History demands that we be sensitive to diversity and change. But at the same time, historians place themselves at an interpretive disadvantage if they fail to recognize broad similarities shared across different political contexts and policy objectives. To this end, it may prove instructive for historians of the Gulag to look beyond the "usual suspects"--the concentration camps of Nazi Germany--in their comparative analysis. Doing so may unsettle comfortable distinctions between "liberal" polities like Britain and autocratic states like the Soviet Union. Such analysis could also provide a lens onto the deeper cultural and material foundations that underlie the proliferating camps of the modern world.

Concrete Connections. Until the 1920s, commentators and policy makers across Europe associated "concentration camps" primarily with the British Empire. As an international media event, the Anglo-Boer War disseminated the idea of the camp to a global audience. At a more regional level, the conflict spread new practices throughout the colonial regimes of southern Africa. While they remained rivals, relations among European colonial powers also depended on mutual cooperation. (56) German officials in Southwest Africa witnessed British camp policies at close hand before using their own camps during the Nama and Herero genocide (1904-5). These enclosures, in turn, may have inspired the Nazi camps of the 1930s, though more research is necessary to flesh out the connection. (57)

Later on, British camps proved a common referent in Nazi speeches and propaganda. (58) A heated 1939 exchange between Herman Goring and the British ambassador Nevile Henderson was typical. Consulting a German encyclopedia, the Nazi leader read aloud: "Konzentrationslager: first used by Britain in the South African War." (59) A year later, Hitler also referred to British precedent when he declared that Britain had "invented" the concentration camp. Germany, he continued, had merely "read up on [British practices] in the encyclopaedia and then later copied it." (60)

It is clear, then, that globalized media and colonial connections helped transmit British innovations to a world stage. (61) But work remains for historians to trace the concrete and tangible impact of colonial camps on later regimes. Hannah Arendt's insights concerning the connection between colonialism and future European violence are analytically compelling but require further empirical validation, especially for the Soviet case. (62) In this regard, awareness and debate in tsarist Russia concerning the high-profile concentration camps of rival colonial powers suggests a potentially fruitful starting point in accounting for the global origins of the Gulag. The first reference to camps in the Soviet Union came, after all, from LevTrotskii, who had followed events in South Africa closely and probably became familiar with concentration camps in their original British iteration. (63) But did an awareness of British and other transnational precedents actually inspire policy decisions? Historians have yet to seriously grapple with the question.

While exploring possible sources of connection and continuity, the degree to which future camps in the Soviet Union and elsewhere were "planned" or "modeled" on British precedents should not be overstated. The radicalization of World War I and the revolutionary context of the interwar decades remain essential to our understanding of the Gulag in its mature form. Apart from imperial rivalries in Afghanistan, Britain and Russia had little direct interaction in the colonial world. Exploring transnational continuities, then, is not to deny the very real variations between different national histories.

Structural Continuities. In addition to searching for concrete genealogical connections that may or may not materialize, a consideration of the deeper structures of a common social and political modernity offers further grounds for comparison. An investigation of British camps highlights cultural preconditions and aspects of camp management that were shared with the Soviet Gulag and other camp regimes. The provision of food and welfare, an emphasis on didactic and productive labor, debates about punishment and rehabilitation, and the isolation of political prisoners: analysis of such themes should top the comparative agenda.

British and Soviet officials acted on an ideology of labor that emerged out of the structural forces of industrialization and factory discipline common to the Western world. Inmate labor at large public works projects constituted a principal activity at British famine and criminal tribe camps in India. Work commenced at 7 am, paused for a meal and period of rest at midday, and then resumed until sunset. Ideally, camp labor was productive, aiding in the construction of canals, roads, and railways--the material markers of modern British administration--at a minimum possible cost. But work performed a didactic purpose as well, and it was enforced even when there was no means of employing inmates in a useful manner. Such was the case at Indian famine camps, where activities like shifting stones from one pile to the next were imposed "for the sake of the people employed." (64)

A discourse of rehabilitative labor also prevailed in South Africa, where concentration camps helped initiate inmates into a modern world of industrial production. As in India, camp labor consisted of "a system of working squads" that prohibited inmates from "spend [ing] their time in idleness." Camps for black Africans enforced a heavy regime of unremunerated agricultural labor, though work conditions were less severe for white Afrikaners (especially women and children), who got paid for their work. Women performed sewing, laundry, sweeping, and light cleaning, while men and teenage boys were put to work "digging, trenching, camp cleaning, wood chopping ... and a dozen other necessary duties." (65) The labor and discipline of camp life, according to one official, would enable inmates to "hold their own in an industrial community." (66) Given the unique racial and political climate of South Africa, the project of social engineering proved especially promising in Boer camps, which concentrated an ambiguous population--half-civilized and half-savage--that was in "special need of ordering." (67) More generally, the production of governable, hard-working subjects emerged as an animating goal of camps in both Britain and the Soviet Union.

For the most part, labor in Boer concentration camps was less burdensome or coercive than in the Soviet Gulag. Labor in other British camps, however, could be more destructive than productive. This was especially the case at Indian famine camps, where racial prejudice and an uncompromising capitalist ideology mitigated against "gratuitous" or "indiscriminate" charity. Limited by strict budgets and an exploitative approach to work, many famine-camp inmates suffered seriously from diminished health and vitality as a result of minimal rations and heavy labor. At a camp in Broach, for example, the district medical officer reported, "the condition of the workers has seriously deteriorated. The young and healthy ... have become slack and skinny, the others have lost a considerable amount of flesh, and the number of emaciated gangs are on the increase." (68) Famine camps were ostensibly instruments of relief, but the impact of forced labor on inmate bodies is suggestive of the "destructive-labor camps" described by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. (69)

According to Golfo Alexopoulos, food and rationing suggest a new subject area for Gulag research. To this end, penal rations at British camps offer an instructive point of comparison. Modeled explicitly on British workhouses, "feeding times" at Indian famine camps were an occasion for "great discipline," and rations were carefully calibrated according to the productive output of each inmate. (70) To spare expense, officials experimented with the minimal threshold "necessary for the preservation of human life." (71) This was a "bare life" that sustained basic biological functions but purposely denied comfort or health. Critics condemned famine camp rations as a starvation diet that simply "prolong[ed] a man's death ... instead of cutting his misery short." (72) Penal rations also prevailed at South African concentration camps, and the diet of political undesirables was "so entirely inadequate," the British nutritional expert J. S. Haldane observed, that "without extra supplements [which, in practice, could sometimes be purchased at camp stores], death from sheer starvation (uncomplicated by disease) would probably result within a few months." (73) By inviting merchants into camps and paying inmates a monetary wage, British authorities maintained a semblance of capitalist free enterprise. But despite surface differences in ideological content, British and Soviet attitudes regarding the disciplinary efficacy of labor and rations were at times remarkably similar.

The treatment of political prisoners and other problem inmates offers further scope for comparison. Embodying the aspirations for order characteristic of modern institutions, the internal organization of British and Soviet camps classified and sorted inmates according to such criteria as labor capacity, social class, and political affiliation. Plague camps refined the practices of classification to a medical science, though the classificatory impulse proved important at other camps as well. In light of recurring analogies between medical and military policing in the larger history of forced encampment, it was only fitting that officials in South Africa turned to the epidemiological techniques of segregation and isolation when combating political subversion within the enemy population. By segregating and, it was hoped, rehabilitating the deviant, the confinement of political "undesirables" in special barbed-wire enclosures conformed to the "rational and scientific principles" of 19th-century penal practice.

Concentration camps in South Africa were depots of relief and rehabilitation, but they were also venues for political surveillance and control. Similar to the Soviet Gulag, British officials reserved the harshest measures for "political undesirables." Enclosed by barbed wire, segregation wards extracted punitive labor from those "who raise[d] rebellion" and "[could] not hold their tongues from speaking politics." (74) In Bloemfontein, for example, a "wired-in enclosure" known colloquially as "the Bird Cage" enforced "8 hours [of work] a day with pick and shovel" for "all singing birds." (75) At Winburg, meanwhile, "a fence of galvanized iron 7 to 8 feet high" segregated those who "foster [ed] resistance to rules and regulations." (76) The stated purpose was to prevent the "infection" of the general inmate population with subversive ideas. Such was an epidemiological language employed quite literally at Indian plague camps, and more metaphorically at camp regimes throughout the 20th century.

Animated by a Victorian obsession with sanitation, moreover, British officials often conflated social and political danger, rendering the indolent and unhygienic liable to detention in undesirable camps alongside politically dangerous inmates. At Bloemfontein, for example, the superintendent punished "dirty and lazy" inmates by sending them to the "Bird Cage." (77) A similar undesirable camp at Norvals' Pont was known as "Hog's Paradise" because it concentrated the "extremely dirty" and "verminous." (78) The degree to which Bolshevik officials conflated social and political danger ("class enemies" were both a social and a political threat, after all) and mobilized similar images of vermin, dirt, and disease is worth further exploration in relation to the underlying logic of British and other camps. (79)

At the same time, however, political motivations suggest a significant point of divergence. "Ordinary criminals" comprised a majority of Gulag inmates, thereby placing Soviet camps within a continuum of earlier forced labor systems in the British Empire and elsewhere. But Bolshevik officials evidently placed a greater emphasis on political traitors, internal enemies, and the fanatical maintenance of ideological purity than their counterparts in Britain. The isolation of political undesirables framed the development of British camps, and ideological commitments (capitalism and social/racial difference rather than Marxism-Leninism) informed British officials in powerful ways. But in general, politics and ideology were of only secondary importance at most British camps and featured only obliquely in famine and plague enclosures. As the instrument of a revolutionary polity in "continual crisis," the Soviet Gulag incarcerated political enemies on a vastly greater scale, at least for the duration of Stalin's (perhaps unrepresentative) leadership.

Any comparative study should therefore identify demonstrable differences as well as suggestive likenesses. At a fundamental level, British and Soviet camps materialized within the structural conditions of a shared Western modernity. They developed according to similar frameworks of purity and contagion and emphasized productive labor, fiscal restraint, and fears of social and political danger. But although British and Soviet camps share hitherto unrecognized The period of Soviet rule has been characterized as an unending emergency lasting nearly the entirety of the 20th century. But while British camps provided the foundation for more permanent geographies of social and racial exclusion, many functioned as genuinely temporary measures. Workhouses, penal colonies, and criminal tribe camps became permanent features of Britain's carceral landscape, but other British camps--famine, plague, and concentration camps--were disassembled on conclusion of the "state of exception" that first justified them. They should therefore be distinguished from the Gulag, which was arguably normalized (despite a substantial retrenchment following Stalin's death) as a standard apparatus of discipline and punishment central to Soviet society and the Soviet state.

In addition to the length of incarceration, the experience of many Gulag inmates was undoubtedly harsher than that of their British counterparts. Suffering and brutality, of course, are hard to quantify. But if camps, prisons, and other penal infrastructure can be located on a spectrum, the Soviet Gulag (like Russian prisons today, as Judith Pallot notes) should most realistically be placed at the repressive end of the continuum. (80) With the exception of undesirable wards, British concentration camps in South Africa were not always fenced, and authorities routinely granted inmates passes to visit town. As such, these camps more closely resemble Soviet corrective labor colonies (the Gulag's more gentle iteration) than the notorious katorga camps that dominate the collective memory of Soviet violence. (81)

Historians must resist the impulse to sensationalize suffering in the Gulag or conflate Soviet camps with the death and unrelenting terror of Nazi extermination camps. Indeed, sober revisionist exploration of the quotidian experiences of inmates and the putatively humanitarian and rehabilitative agenda articulated by Soviet officials might serve to complicate popular assumptions about the Gulag as a vehicle of political terror. Conversely, we must recognize the potential for brutality at British camps, which brought inmates into direct and unmediated contact with the coercive powers of an often-hostile colonial state. At the same time, Britain should be distinguished from the Soviet Union by its open and lively civil society. Floggings and corporal punishment did occur at some British camps, especially when power was delegated to the "man on the spot." But such practices were often at odds with the official humanitarian mandate of British camps. And significantly, the oversight of "London liberals" served at key moments as a brake on violence and abuse. (82) As a result, public pressure in Britain often forced officials to improve grim conditions according to humanitarian precepts. Controversy and resulting reforms therefore constitute a central chapter in the history of British camps, which largely escaped the Gulags cycle of violence and brutality.

At first glance, then, liberalism did make a difference, not in preventing camps but in stemming their abuse. In the worst cases, mortality rates at British camps approached a tragic 25 percent. But such figures ignited a press scandal that would have been unfeasible in the Soviet Union. Popular agitation over concentration camps in South Africa provoked vigorous efforts to reform camp conditions. Ultimately, epidemics like cholera and measles proved the primary killers in British camps, but public pressure reduced camp mortality rates to near zero in their reformed and sanitary reincarnations. In this connection, disease and resulting efforts at epidemiological policing within crowded camp confines suggests a more universal camp experience that deserves further comparative examination by British and Soviet historians. (83)

Finally, the vast majority of British camps were products of overseas imperial conquest rather than metropolitan politics--the existence of metropolitan workhouses and a modest network of labor camps (as well as wartime internment camps) notwithstanding. (84) More readily unleashed in the empire than in the metropole, blunt sovereign force and physical detention were often suited to the surveillance and control of foreign and largely illegible colonial masses. Moreover, camps proved particularly useful at arresting the movement of nomadic (and therefore menacing) colonial populations, fixing them in space in a process often informed by dehumanizing "hunting and trapping" metaphors. But in Britain, where state and society were more deeply integrated, social control depended on what Michel Foucault described as "liberal governmentality": an internalization of norms and a diffusion of power far more subtle and sophisticated than external restraints alone. (85) Prisons and workhouses were central to the building of modern British society, and they provided a conceptual template for the organization of camps overseas. But only in rare cases did power in the metropole rest on forced, collective, and extrajudicial encampment.

In this respect, the British experience stands out, for Britain pursued overseas conquest rather than territorial expansion in Europe. With insular boundaries, Britain retained a relatively clear distinction between metropole and empire, even if the experience of colonial rule inflected metropolitan culture in profound and sometimes covert ways. Presiding over the largest empire in world history, Britain could easily export its coercive practices overseas. But as marginal powers in Africa and Asia, the Soviet Union (and Germany after World War I) pursued colonial ambitions in Europe instead. Here the distinctions between metropole and colony rapidly broke down in Russia's Eurasian land empire and Germany's Ostland. Certainly Britain exhibited its own modern "heart of darkness," but it was largely confined to a distant empire.


By some accounts, Britain stands out for its inclusive liberalism. But it was by no means immune from modern maladies. British camps were built on strident rhetoric--whether articulated in terms of racial difference, social danger, or metaphors of contagion--that dehumanized en masse the targets of encampment. Although the concept of individual rights emerged in the 19th century, it was tempered by "states of exception" and emergency legislation. In this context, British camps detained potentially dangerous populations by administrative decree rather than juridical procedure. Meanwhile, the classifying impulses of the emerging social sciences facilitated the categorical demarcation of populations as a collective threat by virtue of group membership.

British camps, like their Soviet counterparts, did not spring out of thin air but were predicated on an existing set of practices and discursive frameworks. A comparative and transnational analysis helps identify the shared ingredients that gave rise to modern camps across a variety of polities. Whether the instruments of a revolutionary and authoritarian regime, or the agents of a "liberal" empire, camps relied on a sophisticated logistical and disciplinary machinery assembled over the course of the 19th century. Mass industrial armies provided expertise in rationing and billeting large numbers on a uniform basis. Factories, workhouses, and prisons served as laboratories for a new ideology of work central to camps in particular and the organization of a new mass society more generally. Factory labor, scientific racism, and an encounter with difference fostered a new degraded image of humankind and facilitated the development of new dehumanizing methods of controlling populations.

Camps inflicted untold suffering in both Britain and the Soviet Union. But in each case, they emerged, ironically, from the shared impulses of the Enlightenment. As modern states built new political societies based on inclusive membership and aimed to govern populations in addition to territories, difference had either to be assimilated, exterminated, or spatially displaced. Although justified with the promise of rehabilitation, camps often existed to contain outcast groups. By offering "protective custody," they isolated danger and prevented infection of the wider social body while bringing inmates into unmediated contact with the state. These were the external motivations and cultural preconditions for the development of British camps. But these were foundations widely shared with the Soviet Gulag and other camp regimes.

Dept. of History

Crown Center for the Humanities

Loyola University Chicago

1032 W. Sheridan Rd.

Chicago, IL 60660 USA

(1) According to Zygmunt Bauman, gardening and medicine form the two primary activities of the modern state (Modernity and the Holocaust [Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989], 70-73). For attempts by modern states to "landscape the human garden" according to Enlightenment visions of perfectibility, see Amir Weiner, ed., Landscaping the Human Garden: Twentieth-Century Population Management in a Comparative Framework (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003).

(2) For a general consideration of modern camps and their defining features, see Joel Kotek and Pierre Rigoulot, Le siecle des camps: Detention, concentration, extermination. Cent ans de mal radical (Paris: Lattes, 2000).

(3) British commentators during the South Africa War, for example, commented frequently on Spanish "reconcentration" in Cuba (1896-98), whereby General Valeriano Weyler detained the island s civilian population in fortified villages, if not purpose-built camps.

(4) Zygmunt Bauman, quoted in Dirk Moses, ed., Genocide and Settler Society: Frontier Violence and Stolen Indigenous Children in Australian History (New York: Berghahn, 2004), 32.

(5) For the foundational role of such disciplinary institutions as the British workhouse and factory to the development of 20th-century state violence, see Enzo Traverso, Origins of Nazi Violence (New York: New Press, 2003).

(6) Gareth Stedman Jones, Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship between Classes in Victorian Society (Baltimore: Penguin, 1976).

(7) John Brown, "Charles Booth and Labour Colonies, 1889-1905," Economic History Review 21, 2 (1968): 349-61. For languages of "degeneration" at the fin-de-siecle, see Daniel Pick, Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, 1848--1918 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

(8) "To Check the Survival of the Unfit: A New Scheme by the Rev. Osborn Jay, a Militant Bethnal Green Parson, for Sending the Submerged to a Penal Settlement," The London (12 March 1896;, accessed 15 June 2011).

(9) John Field, "Able Bodies: Work Camps and the Training of the Unemployed in Britain before 1939," in The Significance of the Historical Perspective in Adult Education Research (Cambridge: University of Cambridge, Institute of Continuing Education, 2009).

(10) David A. Reisman, Alfred Marshall: Progress and Politics (New York: St. Martin's, 1987), 439.

(11) Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove, 1963), 27.

(12) N. Cole Harris, Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance and Reserves in British Columbia (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2002), xxiv.

(13) Benjamin Madley, "From Terror to Genocide: Britain's Tasmanian Penal Colony and Australia's History Wars," Journal of British Studies 47, 1 (2008): 77-106; A. Dirk Moses, "Genocide and Settler Society in Australian History," in Genocide and Settler Society, 3-48; Samantha Wells, "Labour, Control, and Protection: The Kahlin Aboriginal Compound, Darwin, 1911-38," in Settlement: A History of Australian Indigenous Housing, ed. Peter Read (Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press, 2000), 64.

(14) Bain Attwood, "Space and Time at Ramahyuck, Victoria, 1863-85," in Settlement, 44.

(15) Wells, "Labour, Control, and Protection," 67.

(16) Ibid., 69.

(17) Clare Anderson, "Sepoys, Servants, and Settlers: Convict Transportation in the Indian Ocean, 1787-1945," in Cultures of Confinement: A History of the Prison in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, ed. Frank Dikotter and Ian Brown (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007), 185-220.

(18) Clare Anderson, "The Politics of Convict Space: Indian Penal Settlements and the Andaman Islands," in Isolation: Places and Practices of Exclusion, ed. Alison Bashford and Carolyn Strange (New York: Routledge, 2003), 40-55. For the role of exile in the Soviet Gulag, see the articles by Daniel Beer and Judith Pallot in this issue of Kritika.

(19) N. Benjamin and B. B. Mohanty, "Imperial Solution of a Colonial Problem: Bhils of Khandesh up to c. 1850," Modern Asian Studies 41, 2 (2007): 363.

(20) National Archives of India (NAI), Home Department (Judicial), January 1876, nos. 139-50: Adoption of the Necessary Measures in Order to Render Part I of the Criminal Tribes Act XXVII of 1871 Applicable to the Lower Provinces of Bengal.

(21) C. P. Carmichael, inspector general of police to secretary to government, North-Western Provinces (NWP), 6 July 1870, NAI, Legislative Department, November 1871, nos. 44-127, Part A: The Criminal Tribes Act, 1871.

(22) P. H. Egerton, commissioner and supt., Amritsar Division, 20 February 1869, NAI Legislative Department, November 1871, nos. 44-127, Part A: The Criminal Tribes Act, 1871.

(23) Sanjay Nigam, "Disciplining and Policing the 'Criminals by Birth,' Part 2: The Development of a Disciplinary System, 1871-1900," Indian Economic and Society History Review 27, 3 (1990): 266.

(24) NAI Home Department (Judicial), January 1879, nos. 59-64: Workings of the Criminal Tribes Act in the North-Western Provinces during 1877.

(25) J. F. K. Hewitt, magistrate, Chumparun, NAI Home Department (Judicial), January 1876, nos. 139-50.

(26) C. A. Elliott, esq., offg. secy, to govt. NWP, 21 April 1871, NAI Legislative Department, November 1871, nos. 44-127, Part A: The Criminal Tribes Act, 1871.

(27) NAI Legislative Department, November 1871, nos. 44--127, Part A: The Criminal Tribes Act, 1871, description of the Mughya Domes by Lieut.-Col. A. H. Paterson, insp. gen. of police, Lower Provinces.

(28) NAI Legislative Department, December 1873, nos. 27-30, Part A: North-Western Provinces Rules under Criminal Tribes Act, 1871: Note from Officiating Inspector-General of Police, NWP, no. 28, 29 August 1873.

(29) Statistics on camp populations are spread throughout the archival records, not centralized in any accessible manner. Official figures indicate 1.111 million inmates at Bombay Presidency camps during the 1876-77 famine. A total inmate population of over ten million across India during the famines of the 1870s and 1890s is likely. See David Hall-Matthews, "Famine Process and Famine Policy: A Case Study of Ahmednagar District, Bombay Presidency, India, 1870-84" (D. Phil thesis, University of Oxford, 2002), 231.

(30) For the perceived political danger of wandering masses, see David Hall-Matthews, "Historical Roots of Famine Relief Paradigms," Disasters 20, 3 (1996): 228; and Jim Masselos, "Migration and Urban Identity: Bombay's Famine Refugees in the Nineteenth Century," in Bombay: Mosaic of Modern Culture, ed. Sujata Patel and Alice Thorner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 25-58.

(31) David Arnold, Famine: Social Crisis and Historical Change (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1988), 91-92; quotations from C 3086, Report of the Indian Famine Commission, Part IV: Evidence in Reply to Inquiries of the Commission (1885), 181.

(32) C 3086, 67.

(33) British Library (BL), Temple Papers, MSS EUR F86/208(a): Minutes of Evidence, 49.

(34) BL, Bombay Famine Proceedings, IOR/P/6257.

(35) What Giorgio Agamben terms a "state of exception" in reference to his stimulating but empirically problematic depiction of Nazi concentration and extermination camps. See Agamben, States of Exception (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005); and Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998).

(36) S. J. Thomson, The Real Indian People: Being More Tales and Sketches of the Masses (London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1914), 115-16.

(37) William Digby, Famine Campaign in Southern India: Madras and Bombay Presidencies and Province of Mysore, 1876-1878 (London: Longmans, Green, 1878), 2:351, 295.

(38) Michael Ignatieff, A Just Measure of Pain: The Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution, 1750-1850 (London: Peregrine, 1989).

(39) Rajnarayan Chandavarkar, "Plague, Panic, and Epidemic Politics in India, 1896-1914," in Epidemics and Idea: Essays on the Historical Perception of Pestilence, ed. Terence Ranger and Paul Slack (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 211.

(40) Maharashtra State Archives (MSA) General Department (Plague) 1899, volume 617: Views of the Various Officers regarding the Establishment of Detention Camps; MSA General Department (Plague), vol. 366: Detention and Disinfection Measures.

(41) MSA General Department (Plague) 1898, vol. 366: Detention and Disinfection Measures, Bombay.

(42) Quoted in Maynard Swanson, "The Sanitation Syndrome: Bubonic Plague and Urban Native Policy in the Cape Colony, 1900-1909," Journal of African History 18, 3 (1977): 389.

(43) Ibid.

(44) For a straightforward policy account, see S. B. Spies, Methods of Barbarism? Roberts and Kitchener and Civilians in the Boer War, January 1900-May 1902 (Cape Town: Human and Rousseau, 1976). For a recent social history of the camps, see Elizabeth van Heyningen, The Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer War: A Social History (Auckland Park: Jacana Media, 2013).

(45) Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (New York: Harcourt, 1968), 440.

(46) For the politics and contested memory of the camps within South Africa, see Liz Stanley, Mourning Becomes Post/Memory and Commemoration of the Concentration Camps of the South African War (New York: Manchester University Press, 2006).

(47) David Bell, The First Total War: Napoleons Europe and the Birth of Warfare as We Know It (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Bell's argument is a substantial reworking of Carl Schmitt, Theory of the Partisan: Intermediate Commentary on the Concept of the Political (New York: Telos, 2007).

(48) The National Archives of Great Britain (TNA) PRO 30/57/22, Correspondence of Lord Kitchener, Kitchener to Brodrick, 21 June 1901, Y62.

(49) Iain Smith and Andreas Stucki, "The Colonial Development of Concentration Camps," Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 39, 3 (2011): 417-37; A. M. Davey, "The Reconcentrados of Cuba," Historia 5, 3 (1960).

(50) Caroline Elkins, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (New York: Henry Holt, 2005); Laleh Khalili, Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013).

(51) TNA PRO 30/57/22, Middleton Papers. Kitchener to Brodrick, 21 June 1901, Y62.

(52) TNA CO 879/75/3: African no. 687, Correspondence Relating to Refugee Camps in South Africa, no. 165.

(53) Ibid., no. 54, Mr. Chamberlain to Administrator Lord Milner, 16 November 1901.

(54) London School of Economics (LSE), Deane/Streatfield Papers, Streatfield 2/11, Transcripts of letters from Lucy Streatfield to her sister.

(55) Recent scholarship has explored Nazi camps as an element of a wider set of disciplinary practices. See, e.g., Jane Caplan and Nikolaus Wachsmann, eds., Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany: The New Histories (New York: Roudedge, 2010).

(56) Ulrike Lindner, "Imperialism and Globalization: Entanglements and Interactions between the British and German Colonial Empires in Africa before the First World War," German Historical Institute London Bulletin 32, 1 (2010): 4-28.

(57) Isabel V. Hull, Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); Casper Erichsen and David Olusoga, The Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism (London: Faber and Faber, 2011).

(58) In 1941, Joseph Goebbels produced and directed the film Ohm Kruger, which focused entirely on British concentration camps in South Africa, depicting them as instruments of massacre and genocide.

(59) Nevile Henderson, Failure of a Mission: Berlin 1937-1939 (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1940), 21.

(60) Paul Moore, "And What Concentration Camps Those Were!' Foreign Concentration Camps in Nazi Propaganda, 1933-97 Journal of Contemporary History 45, 3 (2010): 672.

(61) For an instructive example of how transnational connections among British, Soviet, and Chinese camps might be explored--in terms of both policy and personnel--see Klaus Muhlhahn, "The Dark Side of Globalization: The Concentration Camps in Republican China in Global Perspective," World History Connected 6, 1 (2009; http://worldhistoryconnected., accessed 11 June 2015).

(62) For the empirical limits of what remains an analytically promising connection between European imperialism and Soviet and Nazi violence, see Robert Gerwarth and Stephan Malinowski, "Hannah Arendt's Ghosts: Reflections on the Disputable Path from Windhoek to Auschwitz," Central European History 42, 2 (2009): 279-300.

(63) Jonathan Hyslop, "The Invention of the Concentration Camp: Cuba, Southern Africa and the Philippines, 1896-1907," South African Historical Journal 63, 2 (2011): 251-76. For Russian media coverage of the South African camps, see Peter Holquist, "Violent Russia, Deadly Marxism? Russia in the Epoch of Violence, 1905-21," Kritika 4, 3 (2003): 355-56.

(64) Report of the Bombay Famine Commission (1880), 42.

(65) National Archives of South Africa (NASA) Free State Depot (FSD) SRC 6060: Compulsory Labour in Refugee Camp Vredefort Rd.

(66) NASA FSD SRC, vol. 138: Report by Lewis Mansergh on Burgher Refugee Camp--Amalinda Bluff, East London, 18 July 1902.

(67) In a passage that describes perfectly the British view of Boers, the sociologist Philip Smith notes "that which is ambivalent, belonging to no category or sitting on the fence between them, has a high probability of being perceived as dangerous, magical, illegitimate, or in need of ordering" (Punishment and Culture [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008], 28).

(68) BL, IOR/P/5986, no. 2285, Fortnightly Inspection Reports of Officers of the Sanitary Department for the Fortnight Ending 13 April 1900.

(69) A useful comparison is suggested by reference to Golfo Alexopoulos, "Destructive-Labor Camps: Rethinking Solzhenitsyns Play on Words," in this issue of Kritika.

(70) C 3086, 234.

(71) MSA Revenue Department (Famine), 1900 no. 71, vol. 49: Orders Regarding the Restriction of Famine Relief to What Is Necessary for the Preservation of Health and Strength.

(72) Mr. Knight, letter to the Statesman and Friend of India, 15 February 1878, quoted in George Couper and the Famine in the North-West Provinces, 1878 (Statesman Office, 1878), 3.

(73) TNA CO 879/75/3: African no. 687. Correspondence Relating to Refugee Camps in South Africa, no. 79, memorandum by Dr. J. S. Haldane on the rations in the concentration camps.

(74) NASA Transvaal Depot (TD) SOPOW41 PR/A3828/02.

(75) NASA FSD SRC 3966: Discipline in Bloemfontein Refugee Camp.

(76) NASA FSD SRC 5998: Report on the Showyard Refugee Camp.

(77) NASA FSD SRC 3966, Discipline in Bloemfontein Refugee Camp.

(78) Women's Library, London, 7MGF/E/2, Milicent Fawcetts diary.

(79) In terms of the treatment of political prisoners, other connections across time and space are also possible. Highlighting common cultural representations and mindsets about social and political contagion, a comparative and transnational analysis might explore Frances "camps de regroupement" in Algeria and America's "strategic hamlets" in wartime Indochina. Britain's "pipeline" of rehabilitative centers for Mau Mau suspects in colonial Kenya offers further comparative material in the Cold War era. For camps in Algeria, the United States, and elsewhere, see Colman Hogan and Marta Marin-Domine, eds., The Camp: Narratives of Internment and Exclusion (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007). and at times unsettling similarities, clear cultural and contextual differences exist in terms of the motives, duration, and conditions of encampment.

(80) Judith Pallot, "The Gulag as the Crucible of Russia's 21st-Century System of Punishment," in this issue of Kritika.

(81) Steven A. Barnes, Death and Redemption: The Gulag and the Shaping of Soviet Society (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011), 20-27.

(82) Certainly this was the case vis-a-vis the genocidal practices in German Southwest Africa, at least according to Hull, Absolute Destruction, 183-94.

(83) See, for example, Dan Healey, "Lives in the Balance: Weak and Disabled Prisoners and the Biopolitics of the Gulag," in this issue of Kritika.

(84) The large literature on internment camps in Britain has not been incorporated into Britain's larger history of civilian encampment. See Tony Kushner and David Cesarani, eds., The Internment of Aliens in Twentieth Century Britain (Portland, OR: Frank Cass, 1993); and Richard Dove, ed., " Totally Un-English"? Britain's Internment of "Enemy Aliens" in Two World. Wars (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006).

(85) Michel Foucault, "On Governmentality," in The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, ed. Graham Burchell et al. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991).
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